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Category Archives: Dark Matter

Modified Gravity

We don’t Need no Stinkin’ Dark Matter

Extra Acceleration

You’ve heard of dark matter, right? Some sort of exotic particle that lurks in the outskirts of galaxies.

Maybe you know the story of elusive dark matter. The first apparent home for dark matter was in clusters of galaxies, as Fritz Zwicky postulated for the Coma Cluster in the 1930s, due to the excessive galaxy random motions that he measured.

There have been eight decades of discovery and measurement of the gravitational anomalies that dark matter is said to cause, and eight decades of notable failure to directly find any very faint ordinary matter, black holes, or exotic particle matter in sufficient quantities to explain the magnitude of the observed anomalies.

If dark matter is actually real and composed of particles or primordial black holes then there is five times as much mass per unit volume on average in that form as there is in the form of ordinary matter. Ordinary matter is principally in the form of protons and neutrons, primarily as hydrogen and helium atoms and ions. 

Why do we call it dark? It gives off no light. Ordinary matter gives off light, it radiates. What else gives off no light? A gravitational field stronger than predicted by existing laws.

Gravitational anomalies are seen in the outer regions of galaxies by examining galaxy rotation curves, which flatten out unexpectedly with distance from the galactic center.  They are seen in galaxy groups and clusters from measuring galaxy velocity dispersions, from X-ray observations of intracluster gas, and from gravitational lensing measurements. A dark matter component is also deduced at the cosmic scale from the power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background spatial variations.

The excessive velocities due to extra acceleration are either caused by dark matter or by some departure of gravity over and above the predictions of general relativity. 

Actually at high accelerations general relativity is the required model but at low accelerations Newtonian dynamics is an accurate approximation. The discrepancies arise only at very low accelerations. These excess velocities, X-ray emission, and lensing are observed only at very low accelerations, so we are basically talking about an alternative of extra gravity which is over and above the 1/r² law for Newtonian dynamics.

Alternatives to General Relativity and Newtonian Dynamics

There are multiple proposed laws for modifying gravity at very low accelerations. To match observations the effect should start to kick in for accelerations less than c * H, where H is the Hubble expansion parameter and its inverse is nearly equal to the present age of the universe. 

That is only around 1 part in 14 million expressed in units of centimeters per second per second. This is not something typically measurable in Earth-bound laboratories; scientists have trouble pinning down the value of the gravitational constant G to within 1 part in 10,000. 

This is a rather profound coincidence, suggesting that there is something fundamental at play in the nature of gravity itself, not necessarily a rather arbitrary creation of exotic dark matter particle in the very early universe. It suggests instead that there is an additional component of gravity tied in some way to the age and state of our universe.

Do you think of general relativity as the last word on gravity? From an Occam’s razor point of view it is actually simpler to think about modifying the laws of gravity in very low acceleration environments, than to postulate an exotic never-seen-in-the-lab dark matter particle. And we already know that general relativity is incomplete, since it is not a quantum theory.

The emergent gravity concept neatly solves the quantum issue by saying gravity is not fundamental in the way that electromagnetism and the nuclear forces are. Rather it is described as an emergent property of a system due to quantum entanglement of fields and particles. In this view, the fabric of space also arises from this entanglement. Gravity is a statistical property of the system, the entropy (in thermodynamic terms) of entanglement at each point.

Dark Energy

Now we have a necessary aside on dark energy. Do you know that dark energy is on firmer standing now than dark matter? And do you know that dark energy is just described by additional energy and pressure components in the stress-energy tensor, fully described within general relativity?

We know that dark energy dominates over dark matter in the canonical cosmological model (Lambda-Cold Dark Matter) for the universe. The canonical model has about 2/3 dark energy and the solution for the universe’s expansion approximates a de Sitter model in general relativity with an exponential ‘runaway’ expansion.

Dark Gravity

As we discuss this no dark matter alternative, we refer to it as dark gravity, or dark acceleration. Regardless of the nature of dark matter and dark gravity, the combination of ordinary gravity and dark gravity is still insufficient to halt the expansion of the universe. In this view, the dark gravity is due to ordinary matter, there is just more of it (gravity) than we expect, again only for the very low c * H or lower acceleration environments.

Some of the proposed laws for modified gravity are:

  1. MOND – Modified Newtonian Dynamics, from Milgrom
  2. Emergent gravity, from Verlinde
  3. Metric skew tensor gravity (MSTG), from Moffat (and also the more recent variant scalar-tensor-vector gravity (STVG), sometimes called MOG (Modified gravity)

Think of the dark gravity as an additional term in the equations, beyond the gravity we are familiar with. Each of the models adds an additional term to Newtonian gravity, that only becomes significant for accelerations less than c*H. The details vary between the proposed alternatives. All do a good job of matching galaxy rotation curves for spiral galaxies and the Tully-Fisher relation that can be used for analyzing elliptical galaxies.

Things are trickier in clusters of galaxies, which are observed for galaxy velocity dispersions, X-ray emission of intracluster gas, and gravitational lensing. The MOND model appears to come up short by a factor of about two in explaining the total dark gravity implied.

Emergent gravity and modified gravity theories including MSTG claim to be able to match the observations in clusters.

Clusters of Galaxies

Most galaxies are found in groups and clusters.

Clusters and groups form from the collapse of overdense regions of hydrogen and helium gas in the early universe. Collapsing under its own gravity, such a region will heat up via frictional processes and cooler sub-regions will collapse further to form galaxies within the cluster.

Rich clusters have hundreds, even thousands of galaxies, and their gravitational potential is so high that the gas is heated to millions of degrees via friction and shock waves and gives off X-rays. The X-ray emission from clusters has been actively studied since the 1970s, via satellite experiments.

What is found is that most matter is in the form of intracluster gas, not galaxies. Some of this is left over primordial gas that never formed galaxies and some is gas that was once in a galaxy but expelled via energetic processes, especially supernovae.

Observations indicate that around 90% of (ordinary) matter is in the form of intracluster gas, and only around 10% within the galaxies in the form of stars or interstellar gas and dust. Thus modeling the mass profile of a cluster is best done by looking at how the X-ray emission falls off as one moves away from the center of a cluster.

In their 2005 paper, Brownstein and Moffat compiled X-ray emission profiles and fit gas mass profiles with radius and temperature profiles for 106 galaxy clusters. They aggregated data from a sample of 106 clusters and find that an MSTG model can reproduce the X-ray emission with a mass profile that does not require dark matter.

The figure below shows the average profile of cumulative mass interior to a given radius. The mass is in units of solar masses and runs into the hundreds of trillions. The average radius extends to over 1000 Kiloparsecs or over 1 Megaparsec (a parsec is 3.26 light-years).

The bottom line is that emergent gravity and MSTG both claim to have explanatory power without any dark matter for observations of galaxy rotation curves, gravitation lensing in clusters (Brower et al. 2016), and cluster mass profiles deduced from the X-ray emission from hot gas.

galaxyclustermasseswodm.fig2

Figure 2 from J.R. Brownstein and J.W. Moffat (2005), “Galaxy Cluster Masses without Non-Baryonic Dark Matter”. Shown is cumulative mass required as a function of radius. The red curve is the average of X-ray observations from a sample of 106 clusters. The black curve is the authors’ model assuming MSTG, a good match. The cyan curve is the MOND model, the blue curve is a Newtonian model, and both require dark matter. The point is that the authors can match observations with much less matter and there is no need to postulate additional exotic dark matter.

What we would very much like to see is a better explanation of the cosmic microwave background density perturbation spectrum for the cosmic scale, for either of these dark gravity models. The STVG variant of MSTG claims to address those observations as well, without the need for dark matter.

In future posts we may look at that issue and also the so called ‘silver bullet’ that dark matter proponents often promote, the Bullet Cluster, that consists of two galaxy clusters colliding and a claimed separation of dark matter and gas.

References

Brower, M. et al. 2016, “First test of Verlinde’s theory of Emergent Gravity using Weak Gravitational Lensing Measurements” https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.03034v2

Brownstein, J. and Moffat, J. 2005, “Galaxy Cluster Masses without Non-baryonic Dark Matter”, https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0507222

Perrenod, S. 1977 “The Evolution of Cluster X-ray Sources” http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1978ApJ…226..566P, thesis.

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2018/09/19/matter-and-energy-tell-spacetime-how-to-be-dark-gravity/

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2016/12/30/emergent-gravity-verlindes-proposal/

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2016/12/09/modified-newtonian-dynamics-is-there-something-to-it/

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Mini Black Holes as Dark Matter?

Ancient Voyager Satellite Says No for the Smallest Possible

Hawking Radiation

Black holes can come in all sizes from about a billion tons up to billions of solar masses.

Because isolated black holes are difficult to detect, especially smaller mass ones, they have long been considered as candidates for dark matter, invoked to explain the extra gravitational accelerations measured at the outskirts of galaxies.

Stephen Hawking showed that black holes radiate low energy particles very slowly due to quantum thermodynamic effects. So the very lowest mass black holes evaporate away due to Hawking radiation during the life of the universe.

Voyager Satellites

The Voyager satellites were launched in 1977 and NASA has determined that Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in 2012. This is the boundary for the solar wind, which holds back a large portion of galactic cosmic rays. Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause last year.

Forty-two years after launch, and having toured Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, these remarkable satellites are still returning valuable data about the outer reaches of the Solar System.

What is the connection between black holes, dark matter, and Voyager 1?

In the early universe, large numbers of so-called primordial black holes (PBHs) of various sizes may have formed. The question arises, could these be the primary component of dark matter?

Primordial Black Holes as Dark Matter Candidates

The detection of gravitational waves from half a dozen mergers of black holes of intermediate mass has given new energy to this idea. Also, there is the continued failure to detect exotic particle candidates for dark matter in Earth-bound laboratory experiments.

A team of Japanese astronomers, searching for microlensing effects with stars in the Andromeda galaxy, have ruled out small black holes in the range of 10^{20} grams up to about 3 times the Earth’s mass. https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2017/12/07/primordial-black-holes-and-dark-matter has more detail.

Constraints from other lensing experiments (MACHO, EROS) and the cosmic microwave background appear to rule out more massive primordial black holes as the explanation for most dark matter.

What about the tiniest allowable black holes, from about 4 \cdot 10^{14} gm (smaller ones have evaporated already) up to 10^{20} gm?

Voyager 1 Constraints

With a recent analysis researchers at the Laboratoire de Physique Theorique et Hautes Energies (LPTHE) show that the Voyager 1 satellite now rules out primordial black holes with masses below 10^{17} gm as well, as the source of most dark matter. And it is because of the Hawking radiation that we do not detect.

Although Hawking radiation has never been detected, it is on very firm theoretical grounds that it should exist. Everything, including strange objects like black holes, has a quantum nature.

Smaller black holes radiate at higher temperatures and have shorter lifetimes. The Hawking radiation temperature is

T = 1.1  GeV / (m/10^{13} gm)

Thus for an m = 10^{16} gm black hole the Hawking temperature is about 1 MeV. (GeV or giga electron-Volt is a billion eV and around the rest mass energy of a proton, and an MeV or mega electron-Volt is a million eV and about twice the rest mass energy of an electron.)

Since these temperatures are in the MeV range, only very light particles such as neutrinos, electrons, and positrons would be emitted by the PBHs.

Figure 1 from the Boudaud and Cirelli paper shows the observed combined electron and positron cosmic ray flux from Voyager 1 in the energy range from 3 MeV to 50 MeV. It also shows results in the 1 to 10 GeV range from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 experiment on the International Space Station (located well inside the heliopause). Two different models of how the energetic particles propagate through the galaxy are used.

Smallest possible Black Holes ruled out

PBHs with 10^{15} or 10^{16} grams are clearly ruled out; they would inject far too many energetic electron and positron cosmic rays into the interstellar medium that Voyager 1 has entered.

The authors state that no more than 0.1% of dark matter can be due to PBHs of mass less than 10^{16} grams (10 billion tons).

In Figure 1, a monotonic mass distribution was assumed (PBHs all have the same mass). They also consider various log-normal mass distributions and similar constraints on the allowable PBH mass were found.

What about at 10^{17} grams and above? Most mass regions are ruled out.

The mass region above 5 \cdot 10^{17} grams and up to about 10^{20} grams has been excluded as a primary source of dark matter from PBHs by a 2012* result from Barnacka, Glicenstein, and Moderski. They searched for gravitational lensing effects upon gamma ray burst sources due to intervening black holes.

So vast ranges of possible PBH masses are ruled out. However the mass region from 3 \cdot 10^{16} up to 5 \cdot 10^{17} grams remains a possibility as a dark matter hideout for PBHs.

*The same year that Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause, coincidentally

References

Boudaud, M. And Cirelli, M. 2019 “Voyager 1 electrons and positrons further constrain primordial black holes as dark matter” https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.03075

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2017/12/07/primordial-black-holes-and-dark-matter/

Barnacka, A., Glicenstein, J.-F., Moderski, R. 2012 “New constraints on primordial black holes abundance from femtolensing of gamma-ray bursts” http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.2056


Matter and Energy Tell Spacetime How to Be: Dark Gravity

Is gravity fundamental or emergent? Electromagnetism is one example of a fundamental force. Thermodynamics is an example of emergent, statistical behavior.

Newton saw gravity as a mysterious force acting at a distance between two objects, obeying the well-known inverse square law, and occurring in a spacetime that was inflexible, and had a single frame of reference.

Einstein looked into the nature of space and time and realized they are flexible. Yet general relativity is still a classical theory, without quantum behavior. And it presupposes a continuous fabric for space.

As John Wheeler said, “spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve”. Now Wheeler full well knew that not just matter, but also energy, curves spacetime.

A modest suggestion: invert Wheeler’s sentence. And then generalize it. Matter, and energy, tells spacetime how to be.

Which is more fundamental? Matter or spacetime?

Quantum theories of gravity seek to couple the known quantum fields with gravity, and it is expected that at the extremely small Planck scales, time and space both lose their continuous nature.

In physics, space and time are typically assumed as continuous backdrops.

But what if space is not fundamental at all? What if time is not fundamental? It is not difficult to conceive of time as merely an ordering of events. But space and time are to some extent interchangeable, as Einstein showed with special relativity.

So what about space? Is it just us placing rulers between objects, between masses?

Particle physicists are increasingly coming to the view that space, and time, are emergent. Not fundamental.

If emergent, from what? The concept is that particles, and quantum fields, for that matter, are entangled with one another. Their microscopic quantum states are correlated. The phenomenon of quantum entanglement has been studied in the laboratory and is well proven.

Chinese scientists have even, just last year, demonstrated quantum entanglement of photons over a satellite uplink with a total path exceeding 1200 kilometers.

Quantum entanglement thus becomes the thread Nature uses to stitch together the fabric of space. And as the degree of quantum entanglement changes the local curvature of the fabric changes. As the curvature changes, matter follows different paths. And that is gravity in action.

Newton’s laws are an approximation of general relativity for the case of small accelerations. But if space is not a continuous fabric and results from quantum entanglement, then for very small accelerations (in a sub-Newtonian range) both Newton dynamics and general relativity may be incomplete.

The connection between gravity and thermodynamics has been around for four decades, through research on black holes, and from string theory. Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking determined that a black hole possesses entropy proportional to its area divided by the gravitational constant G. This area law entropy approach can be used to derive general relativity as Ted Jacobson did in 1995.

But it may be that the supposed area law component is insufficient; according to Erik Verlinde’s new emergent gravity hypothesis, there is also a volume law component for entropy, that must be considered due to dark energy and when accelerations are very low.

We have had hints about this incomplete description of gravity in the velocity measurements made at the outskirts of galaxies during the past eight decades. Higher velocities than expected are seen, reflecting higher acceleration of stars and gas than Newton (or Einstein) would predict. We can call this dark gravity.

Now this dark gravity could be due to dark matter. Or it could just be modified gravity, with extra gravity over what we expected.

It has been understood since the work of Mordehai Milgrom in the 1980s that the excess velocities that are observed are better correlated with extra acceleration than with distance from the galactic center.

Stacey McGaugh and collaborators have demonstrated a very tight correlation between the observed accelerations and the expected Newtonian acceleration, as I discussed in a prior blog here. The extra acceleration kicks in below a few times 10^{-10} meters per second per second (m/s²).

This is suspiciously close to the speed of light divided by the age of the universe! Which is about 7 \cdot 10^{-10} m/s².

Why should that be? The mass/energy density (both mass and energy contribute to gravity) of the universe is dominated today by dark energy.

The canonical cosmological model has 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and 5% ordinary matter. In fact if there is no dark matter, just dark gravity, or dark acceleration, then it could be more like a 95% and 5% split between dark energy and (ordinary) matter components.

A homogeneous universe composed only of dark energy in general relativity is known as a de  Sitter (dS) universe. Our universe is, at present, basically a dS universe ‘salted’ with matter.

Then one needs to ask how does gravity behave in dark energy influenced domains? Now unlike ordinary matter, dark energy is highly uniformly distributed on the largest scales. It is driving an accelerated expansion of the universe (the fabric of spacetime!) and dragging the ordinary matter along with it.

But where the density of ordinary matter is high, dark energy is evacuated. An ironic thought, since dark energy is considered to be vacuum energy. But where there is lots of matter, the vacuum is pushed aside.

That general concept was what Erik Verlinde used to derive an extra acceleration formula in 2016. He modeled an emergent, entropic gravity due to ordinary matter and also due to the interplay between dark energy and ordinary matter.  He modeled the dark energy as responding like an elastic medium when it is displaced within the vicinity of matter. Using this analogy with elasticity, he derived an extra acceleration as proportional to the square root of the product of the usual Newtonian acceleration and a term related to the speed of light divided by the universe’s age. This leads to a 1/r force law for the extra component since Newtonian acceleration goes as 1/r².

g _D = sqrt  {(a_0 \cdot g_B / 6 )}

Verlinde’s dark gravity depends on the square root of the product of a characteristic acceleration a0 and ordinary Newtonian (baryonic) gravity, gB

The idea is that the elastic, dark energy medium, relaxes over a cosmological timescales. Matter displaces energy and entropy from this medium, and there is a back reaction of the dark energy on matter that is expressed as a volume law entropy. Verlinde is able to show that this interplay between the matter and dark energy leads precisely to the characteristic acceleration is a_0 / 6 = c \cdot H / 6 , where H is the Hubble expansion parameter and is equal to one over the age of the universe for a dS universe. This turns out be the right value of just over 10^{-10} m/s² that matches observations.

In our solar system, and indeed in the central regions of galaxies, we see gravity as the interplay of ordinary matter and other ordinary matter. We are not used to this other dance.

Domains of gravity

Acceleration

Domain Gravity vis-a-vis Newtonian formula

Examples

High (GM/R ~ c²) Einstein, general relativity Higher

Black holes, neutron stars

Normal Newtonian dynamics 1/r² Solar system, Sun orbit in Milky Way

Very low (< c/ age of U.)

Dark Gravity Higher, additional 1/r term Outer edges of galaxies, dwarf galaxies, clusters of galaxies

The table above summarizes three domains for gravity: general relativity, Newtonian, and dark gravity, the latter arising at very low accelerations. We are always calculating gravity incorrectly! Usually, such as in our solar system, it matters not at all. For example at the Earth’s surface gravity is 11 orders of magnitude greater than the very low acceleration domain where the extra term kicks in.

Recently, Alexander Peach, a Teaching Fellow in physics at Durham University, has taken a different angle based on Verlinde’s original, and much simpler, exposition of his emergent gravity theory in his 2010 paper. He derives an equivalent result to Verlinde’s in a way which I believe is easier to understand. He assumes that holography (the assumption that all of the entropy can be calculated as area law entropy on a spherical screen surrounding the mass) breaks down at a certain length scale. To mimic the effect of dark energy in Verlinde’s new hypothesis, Peach adds a volume law contribution to entropy which competes with the holographic area law at this certain length scale. And he ends up with the same result, an extra 1/r entropic force that should be added for correctness in very low acceleration domains.

Peach.fig2.jpeg

In figure 2 (above) from Peach’s paper he discusses a test particle located beyond a critical radius r_c for which volume law entropy must also be considered. Well within r_c  (shown in b) the dark energy is fully displaced by the attracting mass located at the origin and the area law entropy calculation is accurate (indicated by the shaded surface). Beyond r_c the dark energy effect is important, the holographic screen approximation breaks down, and the volume entropy must be included in the contribution to the emergent gravitational force (shown in c). It is this volume entropy that provides an additional 1/r term for the gravitational force.

Peach makes the assumption that the bulk and boundary systems are in thermal equilibrium. The bulk is the source of volume entropy. In his thought experiment he models a single bit of information corresponding to the test particle being one Compton wavelength away from the screen, just as Verlinde initially did in his description of emergent Newtonian gravity in 2010. The Compton wavelength is equal to the wavelength a photon would have if its energy were equal to the rest mass energy of the test particle. It quantifies the limitation in measuring the position of a particle.

Then the change in boundary (screen) entropy can be related to the small displacement of the particle. Assuming thermal equilibrium and equipartition within each system and adopting the first law of thermodynamics, the extra entropic force can be determined as equal to the Newtonian formula, but replacing one of the r terms in the denominator by r_c .

To understand r_c , for a given system, it is the radius at which the extra gravity is equal to the Newtonian calculation, in other words, gravity is just twice as strong as would be expected at that location. In turn, this traces back to the fact that, by definition, it is the length scale beyond which the volume law term overwhelms the holographic area law.

It is thus the distance at which the Newtonian gravity alone drops to about 1.2 \cdot 10^{-10} m/s², i.e. c \cdot H / 6 , for a given system.

So Peach and Verlinde use two different methods but with consistent assumptions to model a dark gravity term which follows a 1/r force law. And this kicks in at around 10^{-10} m/s².

The ingredients introduced by Peach’s setup may be sufficient to derive a covariant theory, which would entail a modified version of general relativity that introduces new fields, which could have novel interactions with ordinary matter. This could add more detail to the story of covariant emergent gravity already considered by Hossenfelder (2017), and allow for further phenomenological testing of emergent dark gravity. Currently, it is not clear what the extra degrees of freedom in the covariant version of Peach’s model should look like. It may be that Verlinde’s introduction of elastic variables is the only sensible option, or it could be one of several consistent choices.

With Peach’s work, physicists have taken another step in understanding and modeling dark gravity in a fashion that obviates the need for dark matter to explain our universe

We close with another of John Wheeler’s sayings:

“The only thing harder to understand than a law of statistical origin would be a law that is not of statistical origin, for then there would be no way for it—or its progenitor principles—to come into being. On the other hand, when we view each of the laws of physics—and no laws are more magnificent in scope or better tested—as at bottom statistical in character, then we are at last able to forego the idea of a law that endures from everlasting to everlasting. “

It is a pleasure to thank Alexander Peach for his comments on, and contributions to, this article.

References:

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2018/08/02/dark-acceleration-the-acceleration-discrepancy/ blog “Dark Acceleration: The Acceleration Discrepancy”

https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9504004 “Thermodynamics of Spacetime: The Einstein Equation of State” 1995, Ted Jacobson

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2017/07/13/dark-energy-and-the-comological-constant/ blog “Dark Energy and the Cosmological Constant”

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2016/12/30/emergent-gravity-verlindes-proposal/ blog “Emergent Gravity: Verlinde’s Proposal”

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1806.10195.pdf “Emergent Dark Gravity from (Non) Holographic Screens” 2018, Alexander Peach

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.01415.pdf “A Covariant Version of Verlinde’s Emergent Gravity” Sabine Hossenfelder


WIMPZillas: The Biggest WIMPs

Godzilla_1954-2014_incarnations.jpg

In the search for direct detection of dark matter, the experimental focus has been on WIMPS – weakly interacting massive particles. Large crystal detectors are placed deep underground to avoid contamination from cosmic rays and other stray particles.

WIMPs are often hypothesized to arise as supersymmetric partners of Standard Model particles. However, there are also WIMP candidates that arise due to non-supersymmetric extensions to the Standard Model.

The idea is that the least massive supersymmetric particle would be stable, and neutral. The (hypothetical) neutralino is the most often cited candidate.

The search technique is essentially to look for direct recoil of dark matter particles onto ordinary atomic nuclei.

The only problem is that we keep not seeing WIMPs. Not in the dark matter searches, not at the Large Hadron Collider whose main achievement has been the detection of the Higgs boson at mass 125 GeV. The mass of the Higgs is somewhat on the heavy side, and constrains the likelihood of supersymmetry being a correct Standard Model extension.

The figure below shows WIMP interaction with ordinary nuclear matter cross-section limits from a range of experiments spanning from 1 to 1000 GeV masses for WIMP candidates. Typical supersymmetric (SUSY) models are disfavored by these results at higher masses above 40 GeV or so as the observational limits are well down into the yellow shaded regions.

WIMPLimits

Perhaps the problem is that the WIMPs are much heavier than where the experiments have been searching. Most of the direction detection experiments are sensitive to candidate masses in the range from around 1 GeV to 1000 GeV (1 GeV or giga-electronVolt is about 6% greater than the rest mass energy of a proton). The 10 to 100 GeV range has been the most thoroughly searched region and multiple experiments place very strong constraints on interaction cross-sections with normal matter.

WIMPzillas is the moniker given to the most massive WIMPs, with masses from a billion GeV up to  potentially as large as the GUT (grand Unified Theory) scale of 10^{16}    GeV .

The more general term is Superheavy Dark Matter, and this is proposed as a possibility for unexplained ultra high energy cosmic rays (UHECR). The WIMPzillas may decay to highly energetic gamma rays, or other particles, and these would be detected as the UHECR. 

UHECR have energies greater than a billion GeV (10^9 GeV) and the most massive event ever seen (the so-called Oh My God Particle) was detected at 3 \cdot 10^{11}  GeV . It had energy equivalent to a baseball with velocity of 94 kilometers per hour. Or 40 million times the energy of particles in the Large Hadron Collider.

It has taken decades of searching at multiple cosmic ray arrays to detect particles at or near that energy.

Most UHECR appear to be spatially correlated with external galaxy sources, in particular with nearby Active Galactic Nuclei that are powered by supermassive black holes accelerating material near, but outside of, their event horizons.

However, they are not expected to be able to produce cosmic rays with energies above around 10^{11} GeV , thus the WIMPzilla possibility. Again WIMPzillas could span the range from 10^9 GeV up to 10^{16} GeV .

In a paper published last year, Kolb and Long calculated the production of WIMPzillas from Higgs boson pairs in the early universe. These Higgs pairs would have very high kinetic energies, much beyond their rest mass.

This production would occur during the “Reheating” period after inflation, as the inflaton (scalar energy field) dumped its energy into particles and radiation of the plasma.

There is another production mechanism, a gravitational mechanism, as the universe transitions from the accelerated expansion phase during cosmological inflation into the matter dominated (and then radiation-dominated) phases.

Thermal production from the Higgs portal, according to their results, is the dominant source of WIMPzillas for masses above 10^{14} GeV . It may also be the dominant source for masses less than about 10^{11} GeV .

They based their assumptions on chaotic inflation with quadratic inflation potential, followed by a typical model for reheating, but do not expect that their conclusions would be changed strongly with different inflation models.

It will take decades to discriminate between Big Bang-produced WIMPzilla style cosmic rays and those from extragalactic sources, since many more 10^{11} GeV  and above UHECRs should be detected to build statistics on these rare events.

But it is possible that WIMPzillas have already been seen.

The density is tiny. The current dark matter density in the Solar neighborhood is measured at 0.4 Gev per cc. Thus in a cubic meter there would be the equivalent of 400,000 proton masses. 

But if the WIMPzillas are at energies 10^{11} Gev and above (100 billion GeV), a cubic kilometer would only contain 4000 particles at a given time. Not easy to catch.

References

http://cdms.berkeley.edu/publications.html – SuperCDMS experiment led by UC Berkeley

http://pdg.lbl.gov/2017/reviews/rpp2017-rev-dark-matter.pdf – Dark matter review chapter from Lawrence Berkeley Lab (Figure above is from this review article).

http://home.physics.ucla.edu/~arisaka/home3/Particle/Cosmic_Rays/ – Ultra high energy cosmic rays

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1708.04293.pdf – E. Kolb and A. Long, 2017 “Superheavy Dark Matter through Higgs Portal Operators”


Dark Ages, Dark Matter

Cosmologists call the first couple of hundred million years of the universe’s history the Dark Ages. This is the period until the first stars formed. The Cosmic Dawn is the name given to the epoch during which these first stars formed.

Now there has been a stunning detection of the 21 centimeter line from neutral hydrogen gas in that era. Because the first stars are beginning to form, their radiation induces the hyperfine transition for electrons in the ground state orbitals of hydrogen. This radiation undergoes a cosmological expansion of around a factor of 18 since the era of the Cosmic Dawn. By the time it reaches us, instead of being at the laboratory frequency of 1420 MHz, it is at around 78 MHz.

This is a difficult frequency at which to observe, since the region of spectrum is between the TV and FM bands in the U.S. and instrumentation itself is a source of radio noise. Very remote, radio quiet, sites are necessary to minimize interference from terrestrial sources, and the signal must be picked out from a much stronger cosmic background.

EDGES-2.jpg

 

Image credit: CSIRO-Australia and EDGES collaboration, MIT and Arizona State University. EDGES is funded by the National Science Foundation.

This detection was made in Western Australia with a radio detector known as EDGES, that is sensitive in the 50 to 100 MHz range. It is surprisingly small, roughly the size of a large desk. The EDGES program is a collaboration between MIT and Arizona State University.

The researchers detected an absorption feature beginning at 78 MHz, corresponding to a redshift of 17.2 (1420/78 = 18.2 = 1 + z, where z is redshift) and for  the canonical cosmological model it corresponds to an age of the universe of 180 million years.

The absorption feature is much stronger than expected from models, implying a lower gas temperature than expected.

At that redshift the cosmic microwave background temperature is at 50 Kelvins (at the present era it is only 2.7 Kelvins). The neutral hydrogen feature is seen in absorption against the warmer cosmic microwave background, and is much cooler (both its ‘spin’ and ‘kinetic’ temperatures).

This neutral hydrogen appears to be at only 3 Kelvins. Existing models had the expectation that it would be at around 7 Kelvins or even higher. (A Kelvin degree equals a Celsius degree, but has its zero point at absolute zero rather than water’s freezing temperature).

In a companion paper, it has been proposed that interactions with dark matter kept the hydrogen gas cooler than expected. This would require an interaction cross section between dark matter and ordinary matter (non- gravitational interaction, perhaps due to the weak force) and low velocities and low masses for dark matter particles. The mass should be only a few GeV (a proton rest mass is .94 GeV). Most WIMP searches in Earth-based labs have been above 10 GeV.

These results need to be confirmed by other experiments. And the dark matter explanation is speculative. But the door has been opened for Cosmic Dawn observations of neutral hydrogen as a new way to hunt for dark matter.

References:

“A Surprising Chill before the Cosmic Dawn” https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02310-9

EDGES science: http://loco.lab.asu.edu/edges/edges-science/

EDGES array and program: https://www.haystack.mit.edu/ast/arrays/Edges/

R. Barkana 2018, “Possible Interactions between Baryons and Dark Matter Particles Revealed by the First Stars” http://www.nature.com/articles/nature25791


Unified Physics including Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Dark matter keeps escaping direct detection, whether it might be in the form of WIMPs, or primordial black holes, or axions. Perhaps it is a phantom and general relativity is inaccurate for very low accelerations. Or perhaps we need a new framework for particle physics other than what the Standard Model and supersymmetry provide.

We are pleased to present a guest post from Dr. Thomas J. Buckholtz. He introduces us to a theoretical framework referred to as CUSP, that results in four dozen sets of elementary particles. Only one of these sets is ordinary matter, and the framework appears to reproduce the known fundamental particles. CUSP posits ensembles that we call dark matter and dark energy. In particular, it results in the approximate 5:1 ratio observed for the density of dark matter relative to ordinary matter at the scales of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. (If interested, after reading this post, you can read more at his blog linked to his name just below).

Thomas J. Buckholtz

My research suggests descriptions for dark matter, dark energy, and other phenomena. The work suggests explanations for ratios of dark matter density to ordinary matter density and for other observations. I would like to thank Stephen Perrenod for providing this opportunity to discuss the work. I use the term CUSP – concepts uniting some physics – to refer to the work. (A book, Some Physics United: With Predictions and Models for Much, provides details.)

CUSP suggests that the universe includes 48 sets of elementary-particle Standard Model elementary particles and composite particles. (Known composite particles include the proton and neutron.) The sets are essentially (for purposes of this blog) identical. I call each instance an ensemble. Each ensemble includes its own photon, Higgs boson, electron, proton, and so forth. Elementary particle masses do not vary by ensemble. (Weak interaction handedness might vary by ensemble.)

One ensemble correlates with ordinary matter, 5 ensembles correlate with dark matter, and 42 ensembles contribute to dark energy densities. CUSP suggests interactions via which people might be able to detect directly (as opposed to infer indirectly) dark matter ensemble elementary particles or composite particles. (One such interaction theoretically correlates directly with Larmor precession but not as directly with charge or nominal magnetic dipole moment. I welcome the prospect that people will estimate when, if not now, experimental techniques might have adequate sensitivity to make such detections.)

Buckholtztable

This explanation may describe (much of) dark matter and explain (at least approximately some) ratios of dark matter density to ordinary matter density. You may be curious as to how I arrive at suggestions CUSP makes. (In addition, there are some subtleties.)

Historically regarding astrophysics, the progression ‘motion to forces to objects’ pertains. For example, Kepler’s work replaced epicycles with ellipses before Newton suggested gravity. CUSP takes a somewhat reverse path. CUSP models elementary particles and forces before considering motion. The work regarding particles and forces matches known elementary particles and forces and extrapolates to predict other elementary particles and forces. (In case you are curious, the mathematics basis features solutions to equations featuring isotropic pairs of isotropic quantum harmonic oscillators.)

I (in effect) add motion by extending CUSP to embrace symmetries associated with special relativity. In traditional physics, each of conservation of angular momentum, conservation of momentum, and boost correlates with a spatial symmetry correlating with the mathematics group SU(2). (If you would like to learn more, search online for “conservation law symmetry,” “Noether’s theorem,” “special unitary group,” and “Poincare group.”) CUSP modeling principles point to a need to add to temporal symmetry and, thereby, to extend a symmetry correlating with conservation of energy to correlate with the group SU(7). The number of generators of a group SU(n) is n2−1. SU(7) has 48 generators. CUSP suggests that each SU(7) generator correlates with a unique ensemble. (In case you are curious, the number 48 pertains also for modeling based on either Newtonian physics or general relativity.)

CUSP math suggests that the universe includes 8 (not 1 and not 48) instances of traditional gravity. Each instance of gravity interacts with 6 ensembles.

The ensemble correlating with people (and with all things people see) connects, via our instance of gravity, with 5 other ensembles. CUSP proposes a definitive concept – stuff made from any of those 5 ensembles – for (much of) dark matter and explains (approximately) ratios of dark matter density to ordinary matter density for the universe and for galaxy clusters. (Let me not herein do more than allude to other inferably dark matter based on CUSP-predicted ordinary matter ensemble composite particles; to observations that suggest that, for some galaxies, the dark matter to ordinary matter ratio is about 4 to 1, not 5 to 1; and other related phenomena with which CUSP seems to comport.)

CUSP suggests that interactions between dark matter plus ordinary matter and the seven peer combinations, each comprised of 1 instance of gravity and 6 ensembles, is non-zero but small. Inferred ratios of density of dark energy to density of dark matter plus ordinary matter ‘grow’ from zero for observations pertaining to somewhat after the big bang to 2+ for observations pertaining to approximately now. CUSP comports with such ‘growth.’ (In case you are curious, CUSP provides a nearly completely separate explanation for dark energy forces that govern the rate of expansion of the universe.)

Relationships between ensembles are reciprocal. For each of two different ensembles, the second ensemble is either part of the first ensemble’s dark matter or part of the first ensemble’s dark energy. Look around you. See what you see. Assuming that non-ordinary-matter ensembles include adequately physics-savvy beings, you are looking at someone else’s dark matter and yet someone else’s dark energy stuff. Assuming these aspects of CUSP comport with nature, people might say that dark matter and dark-energy stuff are, in effect, quite familiar.

Copyright © 2018 Thomas J. Buckholtz

 


Dark Energy Survey First Results: Canonical Cosmology Supported

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) first year results, and a series of papers, were released on August 4, 2017. This is a massive international collaboration with over 60 institutions represented and 200 authors on the paper summarizing initial results. Over 5 years the Dark Energy Survey team plans to survey some 300 million galaxies.

The instrument is the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera installed on the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory 4-meter Blanco Telescope.

11-0222-13D_hr2-682x1024.jpg

Image: DECam imager with CCDs (blue) in place. Credit: darkenergysurvey.org

Over 26 million source galaxy measurements from far, far away are included in these initial results. Typical distances are several billion light-years, up to 9 billion light-years. Also included is a sample of 650,000 luminous red galaxies, lenses for the gravitational lensing, and typically these are foreground elliptical galaxies. These are at redshifts < 0.9 corresponding to up to 7 billion light-years.

They use 3 main methods to make cosmological measurements with the sample:

1. The correlations of galaxy positions (galaxy-galaxy clustering)

2. The gravitational lensing of the large sample of background galaxies by the smaller foreground population (cosmic shear)

3. The gravitational lensing of the luminous red galaxies (galaxy-galaxy lensing)

Combining these three methods provides greater interpretive power, and is very effective in eliminating nuisance parameters and systematic errors. The signals being teased out from the large samples are at only the one to ten parts in a thousand level.

They determine 7 cosmological parameters including the overall mass density (including dark matter), the baryon mass density, the neutrino mass density, the Hubble constant, and the equation of state parameter for dark energy. They also determine the spectral index and characteristic amplitude of density fluctuations.

Their results indicate Ωm of 0.28 to a few percent, indicating that the universe is 28% dark matter and 72% dark energy. They find a dark energy equation of state w = – 0.80 but with error bars such that the result is consistent with either a cosmological constant interpretation of w = -1 or a somewhat softer equation of state.

They compare the DES results with those from the Planck satellite for the cosmic microwave background and find they are statistically significant with each other and with the Λ-Cold Dark MatterΛ model (Λ, or Lambda, stands for the cosmological constant). They also compare to other galaxy correlation measurements known as BAO for Baryon Acoustic Oscillations (very large scale galaxy structure reflecting the characteristic scale of sound waves in the pre-cosmic microwave background plasma) and to Type 1a supernovae data.

This broad agreement with Planck results is a significant finding since the cosmic microwave background is at very early times, redshift z = 1100 and their galaxy sample is at more recent times, after the first five billion years had elapsed, with z < 1.4 and more typically when the universe was roughly ten billion years old.

Upon combining with Planck, BAO, and the supernovae data the best fit is Ωm of 0.30 with an error of less than 0.01, the most precise determination to date. Of this, about 0.25 is ascribed to dark matter and 0.05 to ordinary matter (baryons). And the implied dark energy fraction is 0.70.

Furthermore, the combined result for the equation of state parameter is precisely w = -1.00 with only one percent uncertainty.

The figure below is Figure 9 from the DES paper. The figure indicates, in the leftmost column the measures and error bars for the amplitude of primordial density fluctuations, in the center column the fraction of mass-energy density in matter, and in the right column the equation of state parameter w.

DES.aug17.paper1.fig9.jpeg

The DES year one results for all 3 methods are shown in the first row. The Planck plus BAO plus supernovae combined results are shown in the last row. And the middle row, the fifth row, shows all of the experiments combined, statistically. Note the values of 0.3 and – 1.0 for Ωm and w, respectively, and the extremely small error bars associated with these.

This represents continued strong support for the canonical Λ-Cold Dark Matter cosmology, with unvarying dark energy described by a cosmological constant.

They did not evaluate modifications to general relativity such as Emergent Gravity or MOND with respect to their data, but suggest they will evaluate such a possibility in the future.

References

https://arxiv.org/abs/1708.01530, “Dark Energy Survey Year 1 Results: Cosmological Constraints from Galaxy Clustering and Weak Lensing”, 2017, T. Abbott et al.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weak_gravitational_lensing, Wikipedia article on weak gravitational lensing discusses galaxy-galaxy lensing and cosmic shear


Yet Another Intermediate Black Hole Merger

Another merger of two intermediate mass black holes has been observed by the LIGO gravitational wave observatories.

There are now three confirmed black hole pair mergers, along with a previously known fourth possible, that lacks sufficient statistical confidence.

These three mergers have all been detected in the past two years and are the only observations ever made of gravitational waves.

They are extremely powerful events. The lastest event is known as GW170104 (gravitational wave discovery of January 4, 2017).

It all happened in the wink of an eye. In a fifth of a second, a black hole of 30 solar masses approximately merged with a black hole of about 20 solar masses. It is estimated that the two orbited around one another six times (!) during that 0.2 seconds of their final existence as independent objects.

The gravitational wave generation was so great that an entire solar mass of gravitational energy was liberated in the form of gravitational waves.

This works out to something like 2 \cdot 10^{47} Joules of energy, released in 0.2 seconds, or an average of 10^{48} Watts during that interval. You know, a Tera Tera Tera Terawatt.

Researchers have now discovered a whole new class of black holes with masses ranging from about 10 solar masses (unmerged) to 60 solar masses (merged). If they keep finding these we might have to give serious consideration to intermediate mass black holes as contributors to dark matter.  See this prior blog for a discussion of primordial black holes as a possible dark matter contributor:

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2016/06/17/primordial-black-holes-as-dark-matter/

IMG_0462

Image credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)


Distant Galaxy Rotation Curves Appear Newtonian

One of the main ways in which dark matter was postulated, primarily in the 1970s, by Vera Rubin (recently deceased) and others, was by looking at the rotation curves for spiral galaxies in their outer regions. Although that was not the first apparent dark matter discovery, which was by Fritz Zwicky from observations of galaxy motion in the Coma cluster of galaxies during the 1930s.

Most investigations of spiral galaxies and star-forming galaxies have been relatively nearby, at low redshift, because of the difficulty in measuring these accurately at high redshift. For what is now a very large sample of hundreds of nearby galaxies, there is a consistent pattern. Galaxy rotation curves flatten out.

M64

M64, image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

If there were only ordinary matter one would expect the velocities to drop off as one observes the curve far from a galaxy’s center. This is virtually never seen at low redshifts, the rotation curves consistently flatten out. There are only two possible explanations: dark matter, or modification to the law of gravity at very low accelerations (dark gravity).

Dark matter, unseen matter, would case rotational velocities to be higher than otherwise expected. Dark, or modified gravity, additional gravity beyond Newtonian (or general relativity) would do the same.

Now a team of astronomers (Genzel et al. 2017) have measured the rotation curves of six individual galaxies at moderately high redshifts ranging from about 0.9 to 2.4.

Furthermore, as presented in a companion paper, they have stacked a sample of 97 galaxies with redshifts from 0.6 to 2.6  to derive an average high-redshift rotation curve (P. Lang et al. 2017). While individually they cannot produce sufficiently high quality rotation curves, they are able to produce a mean normalized curve for the sample as a whole with sufficiently good statistics.

In both cases the results show rotation curves that fall off with increasing distance from the galaxy center, and in a manner consistent with little or no dark matter contribution (Keplerian or Newtonian style behavior).

In the paper with rotation curves of 6 galaxies they go on to explain their falling rotation curves as due to “first, a large fraction of the massive high-redshift galaxy population was strongly baryon-dominated, with dark matter playing a smaller part than in the local Universe; and second, the large velocity dispersion in high-redshift disks introduces a substantial pressure term that leads to a decrease in rotation velocity with increasing radius.” 

So in essence they are saying that the central regions of galaxies were relatively more dominated in the past by baryons (ordinary matter), and that since they are measuring Hydrogen alpha emission from gas clouds in this study that they must also take into account the turbulent gas cloud behavior, and this is generally seen to be larger at higher redshifts.

Stacy McGaugh, a Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) proponent, criticizes their work saying that their rotation curves just don’t go far enough out from the galaxy centers to be meaningful. But his criticism of their submission of their first paper to Nature (sometimes considered ‘lightweight’ for astronomy research results) is unfounded since the second paper with the sample of 97 galaxies has been sent to the Astrophysical Journal and is highly detailed in its observational analysis.

The father of MOND, Mordehai Milgrom, takes a more pragmatic view in his commentary. Milgrom calculates that the observed accelerations at the edge of these galaxies are several times higher than the value at which rotation curves should flatten. In addition to this criticism he notes that half of the galaxies have low inclinations, which make the observations less certain, and that the velocity dispersion of gas in galaxies that provides pressure support and allows for lower rotational velocities, is difficult to correct for.

As in MOND, in Erik Verlinde’s emergent gravity there is an extra acceleration (only apparent when the ordinary Newtonian acceleration is very low) of order. This spoofs the behavior of dark matter, but there is no dark matter. The extra ‘dark gravity’ is given by:

g _D = sqrt  {(a_0 \cdot g_B / 6 )}

In this equation a0 = c*H, where H is the Hubble parameter and gB is the usual Newtonian acceleration from the ordinary matter (baryons). Fundamentally, though, Verlinde derives this as the interaction between dark energy, which is an elastic, unequilibrated medium, and baryonic matter.

One could consider that this dark gravity effect might be weaker at high redshifts. One possibility is that density of dark energy evolves with time, although at present no such evolution is observed.

Verlinde assumes a dark energy dominated de Sitter model universe for which the cosmological constant is much larger than the matter contribution and approaches unity, Λ = 1 in units of the critical density. Our universe does not yet fully meet that criteria, but has Λ about 0.68, so it is a reasonable approximation.

At redshifts around z = 1 and 2 this approximation would be much less appropriate. We do not yet have a Verlindean cosmology, so it is not clear how to compute the expected dark gravity in such a case, but it may be less than today, or greater than today. Verlinde’s extra acceleration goes as the square root of the Hubble parameter. That was greater in the past and would imply more dark gravity. But  in reality the effect is due to dark energy, so it may go with the one-fourth power  of an unvarying cosmological constant and not change with time (there is a relationship that goes as H² ∝ Λ in the de Sitter model) or change very slowly.

At very large redshifts matter would completely dominate over the dark energy and the dark gravity effect might be of no consequence, unlike today. As usual we await more observations, both at higher redshifts, and further out from the galaxy centers at moderate redshifts.

References:

R. Genzel et al. 2017, “Strongly baryon-dominated disk galaxies at the peak of galaxy formation ten billion years ago”, Nature 543, 397–401, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v543/n7645/full/nature21685.html

P. Lang et al. 2017, “Falling outer rotation curves of star-forming galaxies at 0.6 < z < 2.6 probed with KMOS^3D and SINS/ZC-SINF” https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.05491

Stacy McGaugh 2017, https://tritonstation.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/declining-rotation-curves-at-high-redshift/

Mordehai Milgrom 2017, “High redshift rotation curves and MOND” https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.06110v2

Erik Verlinde 2016, “Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe” https;//arXiv.org/abs/1611.02269v1


Emergent Gravity in the Solar System

In a prior post I outlined Erik Verlinde’s recent proposal for Emergent Gravity that may obviate the need for dark matter.

Emergent gravity is a statistical, thermodynamic phenomenon that emerges from the underlying quantum entanglement of micro states found in dark energy and in ordinary matter. Most of the entropy is in the dark energy, but the presence of ordinary baryonic matter can displace entropy in its neighborhood and the dark energy exerts a restoring force that is an additional contribution to gravity.

Emergent gravity yields both an area entropy term that reproduces general relativity (and Newtonian dynamics) and a volume entropy term that provides extra gravity. The interesting point is that this is coupled to the cosmological parameters, basically the dark energy term which now dominates our de Sitter-like universe and which acts like a cosmological constant Λ.

In a paper that appeared in arxiv.org last month, a trio of astronomers Hees, Famaey and Bertone claim that emergent gravity fails by seven orders of magnitude in the solar system. They look at the advance of the perihelion for six planets out through Saturn and claim that Verlinde’s formula predicts perihelion advances seven orders of magnitude larger than should be seen.

hst_saturn_nicmos

No emergent gravity needed here. Image credit: NASA GSFC

But his formula does not apply in the solar system.

“..the authors claiming that they have ruled out the model by seven orders of magnitude using solar system data. But they seem not to have taken into account that the equation they are using does not apply on solar system scales. Their conclusion, therefore, is invalid.” – Sabine Hossenfelder, theoretical physicist (quantum gravity) Forbes blog 

Why is this the case? Verlinde makes 3 main assumptions: (1) a spherically symmetric, isolated system, (2) a system that is quasi-static, and (3) a de Sitter spacetime. Well, check for (1) and check for (2) in the case of the Solar System. However, the Solar System is manifestly not a dark energy-dominated de Sitter space.

It is overwhelmingly dominated by ordinary matter. In our Milky Way galaxy the average density of ordinary matter is some 45,000 times larger than the dark energy density (which corresponds to only about 4 protons per cubic meter). And in our Solar System it is concentrated in the Sun, but on average out to the orbit of Saturn is a whopping 3.7 \cdot 10^{17} times the dark energy density.

The whole derivation of the Verlinde formula comes from looking at the incremental entropy (contained in the dark energy) that is displaced by ordinary matter. Well with over 17 orders of magnitude more energy density, one can be assured that all of the dark energy entropy was long ago displaced within the Solar System, and one is well outside of the domain of Verlinde’s formula, which only becomes relevant when acceleration drops near to or below  c * H. The Verlinde acceleration parameter takes the value of 1.1 \cdot 10^{-8}  centimeters/second/second for the observed value of the Hubble parameter. The Newtonian acceleration at Saturn is .006 centimeters/second/second or 50,000 times larger.

The conditions where dark energy is being displaced only occur when the gravity has dropped to much smaller values; his approximation is not simply a second order term that can be applied in a domain where dark energy is of no consequence.

There is no entropy left to displace, and thus the Verlinde formula is irrelevant at the orbit of Saturn, or at the orbit of Pluto, for that matter. The authors have not disproven Verlinde’s proposal for emergent gravity.